I must admit that once I made the switch to all grain brewing I did not want to go back to extract brewing… that being said, there are a lot of things I learned about brewing while extract brewing that has helped me tremendously now that I brew all grain…

One of the things I got to understand was how the boil affects the beer and different ways you can manipulate the brewing process just around the boil to brew better beer…

Today I’m going to share the different ways you can design your extract brewing process to brew better beer…

The most common way to brew extract is using a 20 qt pot (5 gallon or 18.92 Liters). That means you boil all your extract in 3 or 4 gallons of water and then top off with water at the end of the boil.

That’s how I brewed my first few batches until I heard about the Texas two step method or the late malt extract addition method…

At first I thought it was all about hop utilization, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that…

See, when you brew all grain, you start out with about 6.25 to 6.5 gallons of wort, which is somewhat diluted… and then as you boil off water it becomes a bit more concentrated until you end up with your 5 to 5.5 gallons that will go into the fermentor…

The idea behind late malt extract addition is to mimic this… to add only half the DME/LME at the beginning of the boil so that the wort is diluted for the majority of the boil…

To understand the effect on bitterness let’s look at how hop utilization will play a part following both methods…

If I were to add 6 pounds of DME to 3 gallons of water the specific gravity reading of the wort throughout the boil would be…

46 x 91% solids x 6 lbs = 251 points of sugar

251/3 gallons = 83.72 or 1.083 S.G.

Now compare that with adding only 3 pounds of DME to 3 gallons of water…

46 x 91% solids x 3 lbs = 126 points of sugar

126/3 gallons = 42 or 1.042 S.G.

Hop-Utilization-42-vs-83Adding all the DME increases the density of the wort and that has a major impact on hop utilization, which is the first thing you have to account for…

If you add all of your DME and boil for 60 minutes, you only get about 17% utilization…

If you add only half the DME and boil for 30 minutes, you get about 25% utilization…

What that means is that you get more IBU’s or more bitterness from hops when you only add half the DME at the very beginning…

If you are taking an all-grain recipe and converting it to extract, and you can’t do a full boil or don’t want to do a late malt extract addition, then you’ll have to account for the loss of bitterness by using more hops…

There is nothing wrong with that… just something to think about, but where advanced extract brewing comes in is in understanding how malt extract is made…

Maltsters have essentially done the mashing for you… they soak grains in hot water and create wort… that wort is then BOILED under a vacuum until 80% of the water is removed (Liquid Malt Extract) or 97% of the water is removed (Dry Malt Extract)…

They key thing to understand here is that malt extract has already been boiled… technically you don’t really need to boil it again…

Some brewers who buy hopped extract don’t boil at all… they just warm it up on the can to kill bacteria and then add it to water…

The only reason why extract brewers need to boil is to add hops and get hop character…

This is where fun begins…

One of the things I was looking at doing when I first started brewing was shortening my brew day… with this knowledge it is possible to do just that…

Since malt extract has already been boiled, I can cut my boil time in half… half an hour gives me 20% hop utilization, which is not that much lower than 25%…

We are talking about adding an extra .25 oz to .5 oz of hops for every ounce of hops to make up for it…

Heck, you could go for  a 15 minute boil and double up on hops to get your bitterness and aroma…

Since malt extract has already been boiled, you don’t have to worry about getting the hot break… it already happened when maltsters made the malt extract… and again, you don’t really even need to boil the malt extract at all, other than heat it up to 180 -190 °F to kill bacteria…

This is about having options… it could be a way to get more aroma into the beer by doubling up on hops… or it could be a way to keep the wort as pale as possible…

Whenever I tried brewing a blonde ale or a pilsner type of beer, my beer would always come out darker than it should… and here’s the thing when it comes to extract brewing…

You are not supposed to do extended boils with extract brewing… If you ever try doing a 90 minute boil you will notice the beer will thin up and lose mouthfeel because you’ll be breaking down too much protein…

If I were to brew extract again and were to use my 20 qt kettle, I would add half the DME, plan my hop additions based on a 15 minute boil and add the rest of the DME at the end of the boil… specially if I were to be brewing a pale colored beer…

Hopefully this helps you get a better understanding of brewing… you’ll use this information later on when you move to all grain and have to plan for 60, 90 or 120 minute boils… sometimes 4 hour boils…

Cheers!


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